Introduction: Strawberry Mead (1 Gallon)

Picture of Strawberry Mead (1 Gallon)

Hey everyone! Thanks for checking out this Strawberry Mead Instructable. It's not very hard and makes a really delicious mead when it's finished.

This calls for the Strawberries to be added during primary fermentation. But most of the experts in blind tests have preferred meads with fruit (actually called Melomel's) added during secondary. If those words are gibberish to you, primary means the initial fermentation. Usually this is between 1 week and 4 weeks. However long it takes for the yeast to get an ABV up to about where you want it (anywhere between 11%-14%). The Strawberry-Banana Mead in the picture above went from 0-14.3% in a week. I also have another mead going that is only at 4%, and it's been 2 weeks. So the time it takes can vary. Once the fermentation has petered out, you rack (removing of the juice) off the lees (all that stuff sitting on the bottom of the carboy). You usually put this in another carboy, or in a temporary sanitized bucket while you clean out the first one, and back into the original. This is now called your secondary vessel.

The only reason I added the fruit during primary rather than secondary, is I learned to make it during primary and it always came out good. So I have no good reason to change up the recipe. But feel free do add the strawberries after the primary fermentation is done.

Step 1: What You'll Need!

Picture of What You'll Need!

I'll put in links, in case you don't have a local home brew shop near you, or just like buying online. I hope links are okay!

Things You'll Need:

3 lbs Honey. I used Orange Blossom. Any kind will do, but make sure it's good quality. I bough a 60lb bucket from Dutch Gold.
http://www.dutchgoldhoney.com/store/honey-varietals/Orange-Blossom-Honey

3 lbs Strawberries. I know they're out of season and a little pricey, but I got 3 lbs for only $5 at Stop & Shop. Stick them in the freezer when you get home. It keeps them from going bad too soon if you can't make it right away. I've also heard it's actually good for the skins, too.

Yeast. I used Lalvin 71B-1122. It's supposed to be catered for fruitier batches. D47, Sweet Mead Yeast, or anything similar will work fine too.
http://store.homebrewheaven.com/lalvin-71b-1122-narbonne-wine-yeast-p480.aspx

1 Gallon Carboy
http://store.homebrewheaven.com/1-gallon-jugs-wcap-each-p44.aspx?utm_medium=cse&utm_source=googlebase

Air Lock
http://store.homebrewheaven.com/airlock-three-piece-p110c14.aspx?Thread=True

Bung
http://store.homebrewheaven.com/rubber-stoppers-p654c14.aspx?Thread=True

Water. I'd recommend using spring water or something similar from the store. City water has chemicals added, and well water (which is what I have) can sometimes be too hard.

Things that are nice to have:

Pectic Enzyme. The strawberries will make this a real pain to clear. Peptic Enzyme helps clearing in the end.
http://store.homebrewheaven.com/pectic-enzyme-3-oz-p588.aspx

Super Kleer. This stuff is amazing. When it's done fermenting and cold crashing, you can add this and it'll clear up significantly in about a day!
http://store.homebrewheaven.com/super-kleer-2-part-wine-finings-p66.aspx

Yeast Nutrient. I use Fermaid-K, Add it after a week of fermenting. Makes sure there's enough food for the yeasties!
http://store.homebrewheaven.com/yeast-nutrient---2-oz-package-p1411.aspx OR
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/fermaidk.html

Go-Ferm. I use this as a starter for the yeast. It has a lot of the essential vitamins and nutrients to help the fermentation really kick off.
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/go-ferm-rehydration-nutrient.html

Auto-Siphon. This will make your life infinity easier when it comes time to bottle and rack into a secondary.
http://store.homebrewheaven.com/auto-siphon-p136.aspx

Mix-Stir. Kind of pricey if you're only making one batch. But if you plan on making many batches in the future, it's a great tool. Note: It goes on a drill, so if you don't have a drill, don't bother.
http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/catalog/product/view/id/2161/s/mix-stir-plastic-24/category/321/

C-Brite. It's what I use to sanitize. There's other products you can use, as long as you do it right!
http://store.homebrewheaven.com/b-brite-cleaner-8-oz-tub-p141.aspx

The Basic's will cost you around $30. The bells & whistles around $50. Everything around $80. Although the more batches you make, the cheaper each batch ends up being. A lot of these things are only a one-time buy. But I can't imagine spending $80 to only make this one batch, so hopefully you'll be making more!

Step 2: Sterilize

Picture of Sterilize

Again, I'm not going to get into the details of how to sterilize. Why steal jobs away from perfectly good Google engineers? :) I use C-Brite, but there's a lot of different ways. Whatever your method is, do this first. It's going to take a little time to get everything else ready, and this doesn't take too long.

Step 3: Add Delicious Honey

Picture of Add Delicious Honey

The general Mead rule is 3 pounds of honey per gallon. So whatever size you're making, just scale it up. 1 pound of honey is approximately 1 1/3 cups. So for a one gallon batch, 4 cups ought to do it. It's okay if it's a little more or less. Pasteurize if you want to. I didn't. Heat if you want to. Again, I didn't. I also have a drill! So mixing wasn't much of a problem!

I used Orange Blossom. Tupelo, Raspberry, Wildflower & Clover are also popular.

Step 4: Get Strawberries Ready

Picture of Get Strawberries Ready

Take your strawberries out of the freezer and let them thaw out. To move this along, I put them in a sanitized pot, added a little water and heated them. Once they're thawed out, remove the stems. Any greens on just about any fruit or flower winds up adding a bitter flavor to the finished mead.

Now you can extract the flavors one of two ways: Heat them on the stove, or put them through a juicer.

The juicer method is much more efficient and effective. If you use this method, I'd recommend getting a muslin cloth, or even some sterilized pantyhose, and putting the pulp in there. You can squeeze out some additional juices this way, and you want to get all the juice you can. I got about 4 cups of juice through the juicer. I strained the rest of the strawberries through a strainer, and used a bowl to squeeze the last bit I could.

If you don't have a juicer, or just want to do it the old fashioned way, here's what I did for my first batch,
Put all the strawberries in a pot and add about 2 cups of water. Set to medium high heat. You don't want it to boil, but you do want it to get hot. Have a potato masher or something similar, and push down on the strawberries every couple of minutes. You don't want to push down too hard, but enough until you feel some resistance back.

Once they're good and mushy, remove from heat. Using a strainer, pour the pot out into another container. Add the pure liquid to the carboy with the honey. I took the remaining solid strawberries and put them in a muslin cloth to strain the rest of the juices out.

Another note, but if you are adding this to your secondary, be aware that it might kick start the fermentation back up again. Make sure to have an air lock still on!

Step 5: Mix!

Picture of Mix!

Before you fill the rest of your carboy up with water, now is a good and easy time to mix everything you have together. I used the super awesome mixer that attaches to a drill. It's WAAAYYY easier! But if you don't have one, a good shaking will work just as well!

Step 6: Fill With Water

Fill the rest of your carboy up with water. Not all the way to the top, however. You've going to need to leave room for the yeast. And if your batch is anything like mine, the fermentation will kick up so hard you'll get strawberry juice shooting up through the airlock! So space at this stage is okay. After it's done fermenting though, top it off with water. That's the time when oxygen is a bad thing.

Step 7: Take a Hydrometer Reading

Picture of Take a Hydrometer Reading

This is optional. You only need to do this if you want to know the final alcohol content. Also, it's helpful to know if something goes wrong and you need help, or want to stop fermenting at a certain gravity. If you forget to take a reading, or don't have a hydrometer, there's calculators out there on the internets that can guess at the Original Gravity based on the amount of sugars you added. My reading was around 1.110.

Step 8: Add the Yeast

Follow the directions on whatever yeast you have. I make a starter using Go-Ferm and follow those directions. If you don't use Go-Ferm, adding a tsp of yeast nutrient will work as well. Just follow whoever's directions with whatever you bought for this step! I certainly don't know better than the manufacturer! Some good advice I got was to add some peptic enzyme. Apparently the strawberries make clearing the mead rather difficult. This helps later on when you want to clear it.

Once you add the yeast, shake/stir/mix like hell. Do this a couple of times a day for the next 2-3 days. Warning: if you're super cool and got the drill attachment like me, be careful! It foams up pretty quickly! After a couple of days, leave it alone.

I should also note that it shouldn't be kept anywhere too hot or too cold. Warmer than 60 degrees, cooler than 80.

Step 9: Play the Waiting Game!

Picture of Play the Waiting Game!

Most of the fermentation should be done within the first couple of weeks. That's no guarantee, it may have gotten off to a slow start, it may have finished in a week. But when the airlock has very little movement, 1 bubble every 30 seconds or so, it's basically done. Or, you know, take a fancy hydrometer reading!

But you have an interesting choice to make. Traditional Mead is basically a white wine. But if you taste this within the first couple of days that it's fermenting, it is absolutely delicious, and nothing like a wine! The yeast has been going strong enough to give it a great carbonation, but hasn't eat much of the sugar yet so it's still very sweet. If you'd like to keep it like this, sample it every day until it's about where you like it. But be aware that it's only this good for really up to 5 days. It's like a guy growing his hair out- it can be really good short, or really good long, but the in-between phase is usually terrible! If you try this when it's at, say 8% or 9% ABV, it's going to be strange. If you want to stop it after only 3-5 days, put it in your refrigerator. This won't actually kill the yeast, but they'll go dormant and stop future fermentation as long as it's cold. You'd have to take a hydrometer reading to be sure of the alcohol content at this stage, but it's usually around the same as a beer.

For what it's worth, a low-alcohol content mead is called a hydromel.

If you plan on letting it mature to a wine, you'll want to rack off the lees (stuff sitting on the bottle), and into a secondary fermenter. I usually do this once I've attained the ABV I'm shooting for. You can use a second carboy, or even a sanitized bucket. If you're doing the bucket method, make sure to take only the good liquid off the top and leave the murky mess on the bottom. Then clean out the carboy you just emptied, and pour the mead back into it. If you're being really stingy, you can take the murky liquid on the bottom and put it in a narrow container and put that in the fridge for a couple of days, All the sediment will sink to the bottom again, and you can siphon off the remainder of the juice. A good way to not waste a drop!

Fermentation will likely kick up a little bit after all the moving around. Make sure to take a hydrometer reading every week. 12%-13% is a good number to shoot for. Any higher and you'll have a fairly dry mead.  I can't tell you exactly what gravity reading to shoot for, since your starting gravity may be different. Here is a handy mead calculator to help!

http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=745&Itemid=16

Step 10: Cold Crashing!

Picture of Cold Crashing!

When it hits the ABV% you're shooting for, throw it in the fridge for a few days. The longer the better. It also helps with clearing. While cold crashing doesn't necessarily kill the yeast, by this point I've rarely had a fermentation kick back up after cold crashing. There's just not a lot of yeast left or much sugar for them to feed on. But if you want to play it safe, you can add campden tablets and potassium sorbate. In fact, you'll most definitely want to add these if your mead finished too dry and you want to back sweeten it. Since that process involves adding sugar, you're definitely risking a chance the yeast will kick up again and make some bottle bombs.

At this point you can add some Super Kleer. This stuff is amazing (just follow the directions). It will really clear the mead up lightning fast.

Step 11: Aging/Bottling

The mead is ready to bottle if you haven't had a change in gravity readings from one week to the next. They also say it's good to bottle when it clears, but if you add Super Kleer that's not a great rule of thumb to go by! But given the choice, most people prefer to age their mead in bulk (still in the carboy) rather than in bottles. Oxygen is your enemy at this point, so an inch of oxygen in a carboy vs an inch of oxygen per bottle is much less damaging. I also wouldn't sweat it too much, I've had some delicious glasses of mead that were aged in the bottle rather than the carboy.

But that's it! Try to keep your hands off it for as long as you can possibly hold out! It'll only get better! Thanks for reading and good luck!

Comments

AndJoeG made it! (author)2016-07-28

I made this, and it was delicious!

patrick.thorsson.5 (author)2015-02-22

I'm about to start my first batch and i have a question about aging. Do you remove the airlock and just tighten a cap on the jug, do you have to suck the air out, or just leave the airlock on? Thanks.

jimbles (author)2012-08-29

Oh, and if you spill some of this on the floor, it'll be sticky for roughly the rest of your natural born life. So be more careful than me!

bdmiller69 (author)jimbles2014-10-20

Question..you mention bottling but don't give any specific information. Is mead put in beer bottles/capped or wine bottles/corked?

I'm looking forward to making my first batch soon.

Thx for the instructions.

JustinZ (author)2014-09-24

I have a general mead question. I made my first batch about 10 days ago. I added yeast nutrient when I pitched the yeast, after 24 hours, and after 48 hours. I was going to add some additional nutrient an a week or two. I have not noticed any activity in the airlock. I put a tube from the airlock into a bucket of Five Star and water and have not seen any bubbling. I did hear fizzing in the fermenter, but no bubbling from the tube. Should I be concerned? Would it be a good idea to pitch more yeast?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

ashleyd3 (author)JustinZ2014-09-25

More information would help... What sort of Yeast have you used, what sort of yeast nutrient, etc etc...

Based off what you have told me, could be an issue with the yeast, or the seal of the container.

As an example, I am currently making a batch of JAOM (Joe's Ancient Orange Mead) and the recipie calls for using rasins as a nutrient, and Using nothing but your run of the mill bread yeast (trust me, dont knock it till you have tried it.)

Here's my little batch bubbling away.

JustinZ (author)ashleyd32014-09-26

Thanks for the reply. I used Lalvin 71b-1122 for the yeast and the yeast nutrients were Fermaid-K and DAP I think. I took a hydrometer reading the other night when I added the final round of nutrient and the gravity was 1.012. The original gravity was 1.122, so something is definitely working. I tasted the sample I took, and it is coming along nicely. I didn't notice any sediment (lees?) when I stirred in the yeast nutrient this last time. Is this normal? I'm using a bucket, so I can't see how it is progressing. I plan to rack to a carboy in a couple weeks.

jimbles (author)JustinZ2014-09-27

Sounds like it worked! No bubble activity doesn't always mean no fermentation is happening. It is weird to not see sediment, but if you are using a bucket, I can understand. You'll definitely get some after you let it sit for a while. I disagree with ashleyd3 in that 71B can and has made a great mead. As they noted, you can make mead with bread yeast. Speed of fermentation is based on many different factors, and strain of yeast is a small drop in that bucket. In fact I made a mead once with 71B that fermented completely in 3 days, so fast that it tasted like rocket fuel! I would also disagree about avoiding racking. That's one of the most common practices we have to clarify the mead. Some people rack 3-4 times as the sediment (lees) settles. If you're using a gallon jug and have fridge space, putting it in the fridge for a week or two will really speed up the clarifying process. Good luck, and if you have any more questions, I'm happy to answer them!

ashleyd3 (author)JustinZ2014-09-26

The Lalvin 71b-1122 may brew a bit too slowly for the purposes for a mead, but that's okay- its all about learning. Fermaid-K will do the job. I still prefer raisins... firstly, they are cheaper, secondly, they are natural.

I would suggest that you avoid racking unless you have to... would have been better to start in the carboy. Again, all a learning experience.


I am thinking that I might post the recipe that I am using on here.

pvtizzy (author)2014-08-12

I have a batch of the Strawberry that i started sunday and the airlock blew off yesterday afternoon. I am very glad that I had my Carboy in a bucket in the bathroom.

lrodriguez658 (author)2013-09-11

do you need the acid blend for the raspberry mead and strawberry mead?

jimbles (author)lrodriguez6582013-09-11

only if you feel you need it. I didn't, the acid from the fruits seemed to be good enough for me. up to you.

lrodriguez658 (author)2013-09-11

do you need the acid blend for the raspberry mead and strawberry mead?

BlueFiskKnits (author)2013-07-07

Just wondering, what's your recommendation for an aging time?

jimbles (author)BlueFiskKnits2013-07-07

I'm not a huge advocate for intentional aging. I've had too many meads that tasted bad that were aged plenty long, and some great tasting ones that were pretty young. And I maintain that the average drinker wouldn't really pick up on many of the complexities of aging. The rule I've heard and the one I stick to is it's ready when it's clear. If it has some off flavors at that time, give it 2-3 months. If after that time it still doesn't taste good, what's likely making it taste bad won't be corrected with age. In any case, I'll say it this way, I've had this Raspberry Mead after 4 weeks, and I just tried a bottle from a year ago- the difference/improvements were not worth the year wait to me. I make this with the intention of drinking it sooner rather than later. Good luck!

Cluelessben (author)2013-06-21

Back again, and thanks for the awesome instructable its extremely clear. Anyway b to b the case at hand, I'm afraid I left my mead fermenting to long. This is day 1 of cold Crashing, is there any way to possibly reverse the over-fermentation

jimbles (author)Cluelessben2013-06-21

Thank you. What do you mean it over fermented? It got to a higher alcohol % than you intended? If you want to lower the ABV, you can dilute it with water. If it's the sweetness you missed and it went drier than you intended, you can back sweeten with more honey, just make sure to add potassium sorbate so it doesn't kick back hope. Hope that helps!

Javin007 (author)2013-06-20

Instructables like this make me sad that they took away the voting capability. Five stars!

jimbles (author)Javin0072013-06-20

Thank you very much! That's nice of you to say.

Wasagi (author)2013-06-19

Superb! This is much more appealing than the strong vinegar of simple cornmeal fermentation, I'm definitely going to be trying this. Also, did you find that peptic enzymes and Super Kleer were worth using in conjunction, or do they end up doing the same job in the end?

jimbles (author)Wasagi2013-06-20

Thank you! The only commercial mead I've ever liked was from B. Nektar Meadery. All the others I've tried aren't very good in my opinion. As for your question, I think the Super Kleer was fine and would skip the pectic enzyme. I've never had Super Kleer fail to clear a mead, no matter what I threw at it. I just had a glass of it last night and the strawberries really come through with age. Good luck with your batch!

origami99 (author)2013-06-13

This is a perfect example of how to write a great instructible. It's super clear and has all the details. Great job! I can't wait to try this!!

jimbles (author)origami992013-06-13

Thank you!

Cluelessben (author)2013-05-31

Hi I am on day 1 of this Mead, I didn't add any peptic enzyme, or anything like that, however my mead a a thick layer of slush on top. Is that fine to remain there, then when I bottle it, simply only Siphon off the mad itself?

jimbles (author)Cluelessben2013-05-31

That slush will probably settle down to the bottom in a week or two after it finished fermenting. You can also put it in the fridge when it's done and that'll get everything to sink. I would rack it off the slurry a few times until it's pretty clear. Then drink away!

Mr. E Meat (author)2012-08-30

Nice Instructable! I made a batch of mead about six months ago. It stopped fermenting (I thought) in about a month. I bottled it two months later. A couple weeks ago I went into my laboratory only to find my feet sticking to the floor... Apparently mead can take a long time to finish fermenting; two of my bottles had popped their corks and sprayed ten feet across the room! I'll be monitoring SG next time I make mead to prevent this from happening.

jimbles (author)Mr. E Meat2012-08-30

Thanks! Wow, it really should have settled down after that long. I'm surprised it had that much umph left in it to pop the cork! Did you add sugar when you were bottling to get some carbonation?

Mr. E Meat (author)jimbles2012-09-01

I thought it was done. I didn't add any sugar after. The mead still tasted sweet but I thought that maybe I had used too much honey and the high sugar level had killed off the yeast so I just bottled it and forgot about it until they started popping. :)

bowow0807 (author)2012-09-01

I've had a mead going for about 8 and a half months now and its still not at the gravity I want. Its dangerously drinkable yes, but it's only at hydromel strength (approximately 10%abv) I wanted it to just get down to 1.040 (it is at the home stretch only 30 gravity points left! OG was at 1.140 Ken's sweet mead recipe) I added some more yeast and it started up for about 2 weeks before slowing down again. I know that I need to check with a hydrometer, but I'll do that in about a month. I'll tell you more about it once I get a new reading

jimbles (author)bowow08072012-09-01

Sounds great! Hovering at 10% you're well out of the hydromel range. In fact that's where a lot of people like to stop them to retain the sweetness. I'm bet its delicious though. Have you used any yeast energizer or nutrients? There might not be much in there for the yeast and that's why it keeps petering out. 8 months is a long time, you must have the patience of a saint!

bowow0807 (author)jimbles2012-09-01

Yes I put enough nutrients in it. And it's less traditional patience and more like situational. I don't have a corker and I plan to age my mead for a good long while. So I will be bottling when I get my next order from the USA (I'm in the Philippines) and a bunch of wine bottles too.

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